By Robin R. Zoufalik
Achieving energy efficiency is a crucial aspect of facility management. Not only is it important for the environment and transitioning into a more sustainable society but, frankly, it’s also good for lowering costs. Energy rates for offices, plants, and institutions are going up. Energy is the one of the largest expenses for a facility. It’s easy to understand why energy efficiency is important from a business standpoint.
To become more energy efficient, facility management leaders and their teams are conscious of the factors affecting the energy demand of their facilities. Here are six factors that primarily impact the energy demand of a facility:
1. Outdoor Climate: By better understanding the regional climate of where your facilities are based, you understand the strategies and technologies that are best to implement for energy efficiency. For example, if located in a very sunny and dry climate such as Arizona, having solar panels makes more sense than if operating in a cloudier and wetter city, like Seattle.
2. Building Envelope: The building shell protects occupants from the outdoor climate, but how can this be made more energy efficient? If there is no building shell and you’re in the process of constructing, think about sustainable practices and the possibility of fostering greener operations.
If the facility is already built, then think about ways to improve the building shell to make it more energy efficient. An example could be replacing old and inefficient insulation or replacing windows that leak heat or cold air.
3. Technology: With building automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), there are many different technologies that can make it possible for to operate the facility in a more energy efficient manner. Examples would include: motion sensor lights, air filter scans, and smart heating systems.
4. Maintenance: Building automation, IoT technology, and facility equipment need constant maintenance. Building automation and IoT technology can help facility teams see what needs servicing, but if you neglect any equipment, it will use more energy to work, as there is an issue it’s compensating for. For example, HVAC systems working double time to pump air through a dirty filter.
5. Occupant Behavior: Different occupant areas have different energy consumption behaviors. Understanding occupant needs and patterns can help in when strategizing how to become more energy efficient.
6. Interior Room Quality and Layout: Understanding what the quality of the room structure is and its layout can help to determine its energy consumption. For example, if a room has a lot of windows and faces the sun, it’s more likely to heat up space, which would either need less heat or more cold air depending on the geographical location.
Zoufalik is vice president of the sales and Marketing department for CleanAlert, a provider of airflow measurement products based in Oberlin, OH. His core experience is in various segments of the built environment (analysis, design, construction, and maintenance) including professional services (architects, engineers, contractors), real estate development, property management, and maintenance. He’s an engineer by education and a people person by experience.